Do you have what it takes?


One of the best things I’ve read on startup entrepreneurship is Mark Suster’s “Entrepreneur DNA” series from his blog BothSidesOfTheTable. He basically gives a list of traits on his perspective of what makes an entrepreneur. He dedicates a post to each one with real-world examples, including his own experience as a two-time entrepreneur, and what he has seen as a venture capitalist. Definitely fired me up when I read it the first time, and it’s one of the few resources I read every so often.

In summary, they are:

  1. Tenacity - never willing to give up.
  2. Street Smarts - understands customers.
  3. Ability to Pivot - changes course if necessary.
  4. Resiliency - survives through the setbacks.
  5. Inspiration - lead teams and convince others to move mountains.
  6. Perspiration - always being on.
  7. Appetite for Risk - goes all in.
  8. Attention to Detail - grasps everything about the startup and more.
  9. Competitiveness - plays to win and nothing less.
  10. Decisiveness - abides by “just fucking do it.”
  11. Domain Experience - possesses an unfair advantage.
  12. Integrity - does what his/her moral compass knows is right.

Of course, this is a highly subjective list. Nonetheless, it’s one filled with plenty of lessons that are applicable to real life. Obvious from the “Entrepreneur DNA” title, Mark believes that these traits are more nature rather than nurture, which extends to his investing philosophy that has a bias for teams, rather than the product (which almost always changes) or the market (which is ever unpredictable), because in his view they will always find a way to push through no matter the odds.

This has been crucial for me, especially working in a startup, to remind myself of what it takes, to never give up, to focus on customers, to adapt over time, to take punches and not fall down, to inspire others, to work like hell, to go all in, to “flip the burgers,” to play to win, and to “Just Fucking Do It” on all my endeavors and goals whether in career or in life.

So, ask yourself this: “Do I have what it takes?”


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